Swedish actress Noomi Rapace talks about life as the pierced computer hacker Lisbeth Salander
The transference from book to film is always contentious. With the first film of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, released this Friday it’s time for the 3 million UK readers to judge the transition. What will be causing the most expectation will undoubtedly be the portrayal of the lead character the bisexual punk-hacker anti-herione Lisbeth Salander.
Actress Noomi Rapace took on the task of bringing Lisbeth to life and in order to do so took up kick boxing, pierced her face and took motorbike lessons The result is a very real portrayal of this hard, isolated and driven young woman.
The Millenium Trilogy by late Swedish author Stieg Larsson have sold over 30 million copies worldwide making Larsson the bestselling author in Europe, in 2009 and ‘The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo’ was the biggest grossing film in Europe last year. Both have been nominated for and won numerous awards. Dazed caught up with lead actress Noomi Rapace in a hotel room somewhere in central London to find out about the making of the film, and her portrayal of the much loved Lisbeth Salander.
Dazed Digital: Immersing yourself in a character is part of being an actor but Lisbeth Salander is not only very hardcore in her personality but is held dear in the minds of the millions of readers of the trilogy. How did it feel, the task of bringing her to life?
Noomi Rapace: You know, terrible at the beginning, before I started because it felt like a suicide mission, you know. How could I possibly satisfy everybody and fulfil their picture of who Lisbeth is because everybody has their own personal feelings and picture of who she really is. It’s also very difficult to get a picture of how she really is and what she really looks like from the books because sometimes she is described as really ugly with ‘pig eyes’ and so on but in the next situation she is sexy and all the men are attracted to her. So sometimes it was difficult to get a clear picture of her. I just had to take a decision and force away everything else and try to find out who is Lisbeth for me and who is she in me and in a way I used things in me and translated it into her.
DD: Given the sad passing of Stieg Larsson the author of the original books did you also feel an extra responsibility towards the story?
Noomi Rapace: Well, I felt like it was um, our duty in a way and our responsibility to keep and to put our world, when we were creating the film, as close as to Stieg Larsson’s universe as we could.
I didn’t want to compromise, it was extremely important that the rape scene and all those violent scenes were realistic and credible and hard and brutal because they are in his book and he wanted to put a light on those problems. He was an investigative journalist and he worked against the abuse of power and violence against women. I think he was a brave man and we had to be brave to follow his work.
DD: Do you think part of the reason the books, and the films, have been so popular is that they did have that address those issues?
Noomi Rapace: Yeah, maybe I think that also it’s a combination between a pretty classical thriller and then this odd, strange young woman that is something totally different. Also, I think the relationship between Mikael and her is thrilling. In a way it’s a perfect combination as you can feel he is an investigative journalist and he wants to criticise society but in a perfect form.
DD: Also I heard you were a punk and a bit of a rebel as a teenager did you feel you were reliving that in a way playing Lisbeth?
Noomi Rapace: I felt like a teenager again sometimes working with Lisbeth. When I was fourteen or fifteen I was very critical about everything and I was against almost everything around me and I was out in demonstrations against Nazists and the police, because sometimes the police are pretty violent in Sweden, and so absolutely and I could also understand Lisbeth. I could understand that she had turned her back on society and that she doesn’t accept the rules that everybody is living under because society has let her down. Why should she be true to that society? I could totally understand her.
DD: And the Hollywood remake… What do you think about that?
Noomi Rapace: I hope they won’t loose the edge in a way and I hope they will let Lisbeth be as complicated as she is in the books but we’ll see. I think sometimes remakes are not successful because they often try and make films a bit more commercial and a bit softer and charming but, let’s see.
DD: What are you working on in the future, more anti-heroines?
Noomi Rapace: Yes! I’m working on a film now. I’m starting next week in Norway, in Oslo. It’s a Norwegian film called ‘Baby Call’ by a Norwegian director and it’s a really, really good script and it’s a really different character to Lisbeth. She is very vulnerable and fragile and soft and scared… She’s not cool and hard like Lisbeth. she has an eight year old son, she is living under a witness protection programme because she has escaped from her ex-husband because he was very violent and so on so she is trying to start a new life with her son and it’s a psychological thriller.